Saturday, August 19, 2017

Just chillin'....finally

 Bad as this looks - inside your home in Charleston, S.C.  in August - it kept going up!

Hotter and hotter.

It peaked out at 95 and then cooled a bit that night.

Fortunately, I had several Tower Fans that I added to my bedroom to augment the ceiling fan.

I slept fitfully... and somewhat moist.

When I had awakened the day before, I was sweaty and I had a panicky thought "Oh, no, has the Air Conditioner broken?"

Sure enough, the temp on the thermostat was at 88 and was rising.

I called the company that had sold me the unit and installed it many, many years ago and asked for a repairman to come check it out.

 She said it might be Saturday - or even Sunday - before that could happen.

 Yikes. That was not what I wanted to hear.

This was the company I had paid annually for twice-a-year inspections and adjustments.

I was doing my part to keep it humming along and it had stopped humming.

She contacted the repairman who had visited me two times a year and he called me.

He had been off work, recovering from some broken bones after a fall but led me through the steps I had taken.
He said it MIGHT be a malfunctioning thermostat that failed to start the compressor.

I liked the sound of that, bought a new Honeywell wall unit, replaced the old "suspect one" and...
nothing happened. Still watching the ambient temperature climb even as I jabbed in the desirable lower temps.

The fellow on the Honeywell HOT line (see what I did there?) had me do several things and finally said his product was working fine but the compressor was not answering the command being sent to turn on.

 I brought several additional fans into the bedroom and decided I would get through the night and cross my fingers that I would hear from an AC repair person in the morning.

During the afternoon, I did learn that the cat does not like fans blowing air in her face.

My side of the house has windows that opened vertically at each end so I opened them to let the cooler night flow in.

Well, it was a lovely thought. Instead of getting into the 'hammock" she made on the bottom of the bed's box spring, she slept curled up in the front hallway.

Don't think any air was flowing there but how do you dissuade a feline when her mind is made up?

I also didn't think there was an alternative.

Fans obviously were out for her.

I am sure we both spent an uncomfortable night.

I called a different HVAC company this morning that had a 4.9 out of 5 approval rating and lots of July and August testimonials that touted their attitude and service. I figured a weekend call would be expensive but there was the cat to worry about, who depended on me to do the right thing.

As I waited for a callback that he was on his way to my warm house, I suddenly remembered a smart thing I had done several years ago.

There are so many!

In the event of an AC failure, I had bought a 5,000 BTU window unit to give me a cold spot as things got sorted out! And a cool night's sleep!

The windows on my side of the house would not accommodate it but my Mom's bedroom - now a spare room - had windows perfect for this. I unboxed it, set it in place and turned it on. Blessed cold air!
I quickly put Kibble and water in there and tossed in the cat.

My phone rang, the repairman had arrived and he came in and began to fiddle with the thermostat.

Instead of going up in the attic, he went to the outside portion of the HVAC and then I heard the AC click on!

Ryan with Air Plus HVAC showed me a 5-inch long red wire that was crimped and broken.

He said replacing that wire allowed the unit to kick on and the rest was glorious cool comfort.

He did caution me that my Trane unit was 19- years old and I should start shopping around to replace it.

I gladly paid the fee for a weekend call and smiled when I said it was much lower than I had dreaded.

He said he hears that a lot as we both sipped large glasses of ice cold water.

He was glad a trip up to the attic was avoided and I asked what was next for him.

He said two more calls and he would be done for the day. He suspected he would be in two more attics though.

He drove off and I opened the door to the spare bedroom and Wallis bounded out. I think cats CAN smile.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lawnmower not working?

 When I first came back to Charleston, I rented a small house on one of the barrier islands, not far from the beach.

Each spring, for the four years I was there, my landlord would release two or three goats into a fenced storage area and shed next to my rented 800-sf brick home at the end of a winding dirt road.

Within a month, all the tall grass would be chewed down.

Then he'd move them to a much larger fenced area up near the main road.

They would begin to munch, producing the same "mowed" results.

The downside, of course, was that goats will climb anything to get up higher and many mornings I awoke to the sound of hooves prancing on the metal shed.

I can see why someone would "leap from their bed to see what's the matter" (say, on Christmas Eve).
This gentle man invited me to join him and his wife at a gospel tent revival, and I went. 

He was very prominent in the church group so we were seated on white folding chairs in front row center. I got a close-up look at the purpose of a "spit jar" for a preacher in an outdoor setting.
If a bug entered his mouth mid-sentence, he would grab the glass, take a swig and spit out the offending critter. Or, cast it forth.

These grass-eating goats, along with some sheep, would be part of a living display each Easter at the church's outdoor "Road To Resurrection". The faithful would drive by the three crosses and celebrate "He Is Risen" in a bucolic setting, complete with grass-munching livestock.
One year, in preparation, he rounded up his "herd" in the large fenced field by my house, and a large roving pack of feral dogs attacked the animals and, in a frenzy, killed all of them.

So, that year, fellow church members helped him dig deep holes and bury the slaughtered goats and sheep and the annual church event was canceled.

(Click on the photos for more details)

I drove out to James Island a few years later to see the small house I had rented and enjoyed.

The landlord had died and the house fell into disrepair.

That's a shame.

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Re-hab one more time....

I'm of an age where I hear a lot of talk about hip replacements.

And swapping out knee joints.

Maybe that's why, when my right knee started hurting, I went to see the surgeon who had operated on my left knee 8 years ago.
Back then, an MRI had shown that a piece of "padding" in the knee had torn and dangled enough that it got in the way when the knee flexed.

Now, I'm picturing a sheet drying on a clothesline, flapping and billowing in the breeze.

I had a vivid imagination.

Knees tend to flex a lot so that piece of meniscus had to be cleaned up with a fairly simple procedure.

Insert a tiny camera into an incision below the knee to take a close-up look.

Then make another small hole to insert tools needed to snip and smooth the problem.

Dr. Marshal Hay did the operation, my knee quickly fully recovered and I was good to go.

A few months ago, when my right started to swell and become painful, I asked my doctor to send me to see Dr. Marshall Hay again.

I recalled his calm and soothing manner from all those years ago and was VERY happy when he studied the MRI and declared I did NOT need surgery.


He prescribed exercise and said rehab should take away the pain and shortly, I could re-start using my treadmill at home.

He sent me to ATI physical therapy near my home, across from Northwoods Mall on Rivers Avenue.

Twice a week I went to learn and perform exercises that strengthened my right leg, my calf, hamstring and even my glutes.

My young therapist Robyn also addressed making my foot and ankle stronger to improve my balance.

When I first tried walking a straight line heel-to-toe, I realized why the police make suspected drunk drivers do this. To do it properly requires good balance and concentration. Robyn did NOT have me extend my arm and touch my nose.

We started each hour with 10-minutes of bike pedaling to loosen me up, warming and stretching my muscles.

Robyn knotted a colorful piece of stretchy material and placed it around my ankles. Then she had me sidle sideways across the room.

No problem at first but I quickly started to feel the burn along my thighs.

I was exercising muscles I had never really thought about before.

But she was not through with that piece of fabric.

Next, she moved it up above my knees while I was seated and had me stretch my arms forward and stand up. She showed me how to stop "lunging" and simply rise up to my feet.

One simple - though clever - device was a wooden platform angled to 45-degrees where I faced a wall, stood on it, and felt my calves tighten.

A 30-second stand, step off and step back on for 10 sets.

I'm pretty handy with tools and working with wood, so I made one for use at home.

My cat was amused to see me stand perfectly still for half a minute, my face to a wall, and repeat it over and over.

She also calmly ate her Kibble, watching as I would glide sideways across the kitchen, feet hobbled by that stretched band.

After working at the ATI center, and taking home illustrated pages of exercises, I would repeat many at home.

We would end each session with a gradually-increased time on their treadmill.

One day, while pedaling on the bike, I asked about the stairs and a tall ladder I saw in the corner.

I assumed the mock stairs were to rehab people until they were comfortable going up and down stairs. My house has several different levels so I am sure that what it was for.

That indeed was the purpose they served but I asked if the tall, extension ladder was used mainly to change light bulbs overhead.

Actually many people are injured on the job and ATI works to make sure they are fit to return to the workplace.

Often workers have to climb up and down ladders so this was another dedicated strength builder.

I saw others using large inflated balls to stretch their legs and "bungee-type" cords to exercise their arm use and reach.

As we were winding down my days there, it was suggested maybe cut it back to one day a week or maybe every other week.

That reminded me that when I completed 90-days of rehab after a 2002 heart attack, there was a Graduation Ceremony.

The trainers gathered around me, placed a black mortar board on my head and took a photo.

Robyn thought that was great and said ATI uses a fancy Championship belt like the kind winning boxers wear and she went to look for it.

Robyn came back, I posed and she snapped a photo with my phone camera.

I noted the belt was too small to go around my waist and resolved to work on that with diet and exercise.

As I held the belt in place, I could hear "Eye Of The Tiger" playing in my head.

The pain in my knee is gone, I avoided surgery, and now I am using my treadmill at home again where I can watch Netflix.

Wonder if they're streaming any of the old the ROCKY films?

(Click on the photos and links for more detail.)

Thanks for tagging along on my sweaty exercise program, Hey, I've dropped 7 pounds!

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Not everyone is a former Beatle.....

 Had a chance to see the Lee Boys again recently at the Pour House.

Really like their "Sacred Steel" sound.

Robert Randolph and The Family Band was the first time I heard the foot-stomping sounds that can be made on a pedal steel guitar.

Growing up, I had seen country bands on tv turn a guitar on its side, place it in the lap and hear something slightly similar.

But, a full-blown pedal steel is a world of its own!

The link above will give you a sample of what I was enjoying that night at the PoHo.

When I saw them before at Wild Wing in Mt. Pleasant, it was a Lee Family Night.

Several relatives came up on stage and set up additional pedal steels Yowzah!

This night was another family gathering!

Online says they are based in Miami but I would have guessed Charleston - or at least the Lowcountry.

"..we still keep our Miami roots. A lot of us play around here at different churches and concerts. That’s how The Lee Boys give back to Miami after getting so much from the city." 

Yes, I too wondered what the words on the front of Chris Johnson's shirt, I Googled it.

It translates as "Crazy Dudes."

Sometimes the name of the opening band is just remembered as "the opener." 

People don't feel too bad if they arrive late to the main show. 

Maybe stop to have a bite to eat and a drink, knowing what time the headliner will start.

In this case, "the opener" for the Lee Boys included the pedal steel player Chris Johnson who sat in.

Arriving early was an added treat.

Another musical bonus was a surprise Father's Day present from my older daughter in Oakland. California.

I had seen ads for the Amazon "DOT" but didn't realize how quickly it would become a standard feature around the house..especially in the morning in the kitchen.

Setting up the tv to play Bob Dylan on Pandora meant a few steps involving my computer, changing the tv to HDMI1 and using my cell phone.

Now I just say "Alexa, some Bob Dylan music please," and the device starts playing Dylan.

My recent visit to Northern Minnesota is when I learned Bobby D. had been born in Hibbing.

Obviously, he learned how to cover up that Iron Range twang.

Sometimes in music, you don't alway get what you expected.

Went to The Mill in North Charleston to hear The Wilkinson's Quartet., from Austin, Texas

And, yes, I did expect to see four people crowded onto the stage area.

There was plenty of room for half of the quartet and it was the talented part of the group. 

At least I liked what I heard from the bassist and guitar and can only guess what the other two added to the mix. Maybe this was a case of a double booking?

The opener before the Tedeschi Trucks Band at the PAC (Performing Arts Center) in North Charleston was introduced and the crowd seemed to know the two.

And the duo played - mandolin and guitar - well. 

But I didn't jot down their names and they announced they currently play, not very often, in Oblivion. 

Sounded like some kind of musical Witness Protection program.

I had seen Susan and Derek before and enjoyed the evening with them and their band.

I am finding I did not blog about several bands and am trying to do some catch up here.

Yes, I stayed a long, long time writing about all the craft breweries that had opened here and even some hints at a few more on the verge of opening their tap rooms for a taste.

But a lot of music has been enjoyed so I wanted to touch on some.

So pleased with the talent choosing to come to Charleston!

Our venues are varied, we are seeing repeats by name stars and the Coming Musical Attractions are very "attractive."

It's fun to be retired and supporting live music here!

(Click on photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for stopping by. 

I've been blogging here for more than 10 years.

Let me know what you think.....

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Uh oh, caught in the act!

 It's one thing to "sneak in" a camera at a music concert.

Most people today carry cell phones so no longer bother with a ""real" camera.

Sometimes you're not sure because the sign says "no flash please."

The ticket might state "no cameras or recording devices."

The Paul McCartney concert last Thursday in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth made it very clear, the singer - who just turned 75 years old - had no problem with fans taking photos.

When you went through security at the Infinite Energy Center
door, you were asked to place your keys, camera, and phone in the basket. All were returned a moment later.

The smiling crowd complied and we all were pleased with this nice, comforting welcome!

I had been to this Arena before for a Jack Black Tenacious D concert and remembered the steep stairs to the floor level.

So, I bought a tall beer before I ventured down to my 10th-row seat, careful not to slosh and spill my brew.

When the usher escorted me to the proper row, I asked if my memory was correct of beer & bathrooms on this floor level.

She smiled and pointed toward the back, letting me know I didn't have to climb those stairs again!

It was a festive crowd of old and young, some with nostalgia and others new to the McCartney scene since the Beatles.

Many knew him from Wings and there were some probably not aware he was in another band before that!

I had seen McCartney in 2011 in Charlotte and wanted to see if the years since had slowed him down?

Before that, while working as a staff photographer for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper, I covered the Beatles 1965 concert as well as the morning zany press conference.

This night I quickly felt "slowing down" was NOT the case and sat back - with my camera - to document how a legend continues to grow and build upon itself.


It was quite a well-scripted musical performance. As usual, he started out wearing a coat and open collar but that lasted for only a few songs.

Then he doffed the pale blue coat and started rolling up his sleeves.

He planned a long and energetic night and delivered ALL of that to our delight.

Accompanied by a hard-working drummer, a talented keyboard artist, and two guitarists, the evening was going swell.

The key light stayed on the star of the show and my camera tended to show all the others slightly darker.

Hey, the crowd came to see Sir Paul.

Earlier I added a link to a review of the show so pertinent details appear there.

Click and look, there even is the set list of the 39 songs covered in the three-hour show.

Here is my favorite shot of the night!

A very-spirited, finger-snapping Paul obviously getting good feedback from the audience.

There were more than 3 dozen songs and I want to stress he was on stage, performing on every one of them.

That would be a strain on a much younger man!

His enthusiasm is very evident and I am glad I captured that moment and am able to share it.

Speaking of sharing, I saw a family a few rows in front of me, all costumed as the Sgt. Pepper Band members from 50 years ago!

The videographer roaming the audience doing insert footage noticed them too and they were invited up on the stage to chat with Paul toward the end of the show.

Needless to say, they were ecstatic!

I believe they said they had come down from Kentucky for the show.

Paul asked the 11-year old if she had made her costume and she answered "no."

He quipped "You should have lied!"

When they came back to their seats, I gave the dad my card and suggested he email me and I would send some photos of them with McCartney.

The Mom did and I sent several the next day.

A short lady standing in front of me had an interesting REAL FAN tattoo and I asked about it.

She said he had signed her and she had a tattoo artist make it permanent. Well, that's what she told me.

I did notice her white sneakers had THE on the heel of left one and BEATLES on the heel of the right one. And four familiar faces on the front.

 I enjoyed the show and am pleased to have pictures I wanted to share.

I have had a blog for 10-years and it's a great place to share my various adventures with others.

Be sure to click on the link and the photos for more details.

Here are some other shots added to the end of this posting. Thanks for stopping by.

* Here's a link to the YouTube capture of LIVE AND LET DIE, the explosive WINGS song.

This was twice as long - and loud - as what I saw in 2011.

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Thursday, July 06, 2017

Looking down on 4th of July fireworks!

 A quiet week up in Northern Minnesota, on Lake Vermilion.

Relaxed with my younger daughter Heather and grandson Aiden.

I was so laid back I didn't even try fishing.

Sun came up early (I missed it) but the sunset was right around 10 pm so caught a lot of these scenes.

Another favorite spot was standing on a deck facing the lake, down from the geodesic domes on the family private island.

 My son-in-law is a former Marine so this flag is proudly on display often.

The mainland is not very far from the island and the nearest town - Cook, Minnesota - with Pop. 574 - is about 12 miles away. The whole County has 5,286 residents.

The island has varied modes of water travel: a power boat with a 40-hp Mercury outboard engine, a fiberglass paddle boat, and a bicycle-style float to get across to the other side.,

Handy, nearby Cook is where the gas station and general store is conveniently located. The Comet Theatre was founded there in 1939 and notes "There must be 5 patrons or you pay the difference."

About 25 miles away is the larger town of Virginia, MN - Pop 8,716 - with it's Wal-Mart, Great Clips, various small businesses,  and several very nice family-run restaurants.

Now, I'm back on the island for the first time in about 30 years and have not been there ever in the winter. I did live down in the Twin Cities for one year so I have experienced cold weather. "Cold" is when trucks drive on out the ice to deliver materials for summer construction projects. The ice usually "goes out" in April-May.

There are several rustic cabins on the island as well as three hardy and spacious wooden Domes.

My grandson filled most of the space with his various toys in the main dome's Great Room.

The almost 6-year-old was very good at clearing up all of his toys before bedtime. He used an abundance of large, empty, clear plastic containers.

The week on the island offered sunny days, a rainy afternoon, gorgeous sunsets, temps in the 50s and 60s and a slowed pace.

As Charleston comes into its hottest month of the year, it was a welcome change.

Oh and HHH, Hot, Hazy, and Humid down south.

I was surrounded by birch trees and Douglas firs, the sounds of a loon on the lake and the chatter of an occasional passing outboard.

Well, it had to end.

We packed up all we needed for travel and headed to Hibbing, Minnesota, to the regional airport, to fly back to Minneapolis/St. Paul, the Twin Cities.

The lobby was covered with images of famous Hibbing-ites such as Bob Dylan, recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and a man I've seen in concert a few times.

Also from there is baseball hero Roger Maris.

And Vincent Bugliosi, Prosecutor of Charles Manson, a trial I covered for CBS for about four months.

The "Fame on the (Iron) Range" display also included Judy Garland, listing her as born in Grand Rapids, about 41 miles from Hibbing.

Hey, close enough. Still part of the Range.

I took a photo of my grandson, posed with a "photo bombing" moose, grinning behind him.

Our plane arrived, we quickly went through TSA in the regional airport and the grandson was given a sticker with a badge image stating he was a Junior TSA officer.

I asked for one also.

It might come in handy at other airport security situations. Haha.

Oh, yeah, about "looking down on fireworks."

That happened after I landed in Atlanta and, eventually boarded the flight to Charleston.

We taxied out and as we slowly moved forward (a bit after 10 pm), we could see fireworks exploding and lighting up the sky off to the southeast.

By the time we were in the air, all the city and county "official" firework shows had ended but, as we climbed, there were dozens of small, individual flashes in backyards.

I could see the rockets climb and explode, scattering shiny and sparkling bits and pieces until we got higher and could see only the scattered flashes.

And, then we were in the clouds. Happy Fourth, America.


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